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Arch Fam Med. 1998 Nov-Dec;7(6):548-53.

Prevalence and patterns of physician referral to clergy and pastoral care providers.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center School of Medicine, Kansas City 66160-7370, USA. tdaalema@kumc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a heightened interest in spiritual and religious interventions in clinical settings, an area marked by unease and lack of training by physicians. A potential resource for generalists is specialty consultation and referral services, although little is known about the prevalence and patterns of involvement of clergy or pastoral professionals in patient care.

OBJECTIVES:

To identify the prevalence and patterns of physician-directed patient referral to or recommended consultation with clergy or pastoral care providers and to describe attitudinal and demographic variables that can predict referring and nonreferring physicians.

DESIGN:

A mailed anonymous survey.

SETTING:

Family physicians in the United States.

PARTICIPANTS:

Active members of the American Academy of Family Physicians whose self-designated professional activity is direct patient care. Of the 756 randomly selected physicians for participation in the study, 438 (57.9%) responded.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Physician reporting on their attitudes and referral behaviors, including referral frequency, and conditions or reasons for referral or nonreferral to clergy and pastoral care providers.

RESULTS:

More than 80% of the physicians reported that they refer or recommend their patients to clergy and pastoral care providers; more than 30% stated that they refer more than 10 times a year. Most physicians (75.5%) chose conditions associated with end-of-life care (ie, bereavement, terminal illness) as reasons for referral. Marital and family counseling were cited by 72.8% of physicians; however, other psychosocial issues, such as depression and mood disorders (38.7%) and substance abuse (19.0%), were less prevalent. Physicians who reported a greater degree of religiosity had a small increased tendency to refer (r = 0.39, P<.05) to these providers. In addition, physicians who were in practice for more than 15 years were more likely to refer to clergy (P<.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Most family physicians accept clergy and pastoral professionals in the care of their patients. In medical settings, the providers of religious and spiritual interventions have a larger and more expanded role than previously reported.

PMID:
9821829
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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